Beltexhas proved itself a viable commercial sire for County Durham’s Jewitt family for more than a decade – just ask young Henry Jewitt, one of the youngest breeders in the society’s flock book.
Eighteen-year-old Henry puts his faith in the quality of Beltex for his family’s 350-acre farm, both as a pedigree flock producing high-quality rams and females for sale, and as the terminal sire used over their entire 250-ewe commercial flock.
Based at Gracie Farm, Barnard Castle, the commercial flock, which comprises Beltex cross Texel, Mule, Zwartbles and other continental cross ewes, has been put to Beltex rams since 2000, after his parents were impressed by the breed’s shapely carcase at breeding sales in the North East.
Henry said: “We lamb everything on the farm to the Beltex. The farm is 1,200ft above sea level and, with the exception of this year due to bad weather, we generally lamb everything outside from April 1 for six weeks, with minimal problems.
“The Beltex rams leave smaller lambs on the ground that are quickly up to suckle and start to put on meat off milk and grass within the first few weeks.” Henry has just completed sixth-form college and has already started to work with his parents on the hill unit.
In 2013, the commercial flock scanned at 187% and reared 178%.
The pedigree flock is lambed inside in early February, with embryo transfers lambing the previous month.
“We find the Beltex cross lambs are all fit to be weaned at 16 weeks and they are sold either finished at an average 38kg liveweight or as stores off milk and grass alone at 16 to 22-weeks-old in mid-September, to a farmer who finishes them for his farm shop in Darlington, favouring the shapely, smaller carcases that the Beltex-sired lambs offer with minimal bone and fat waste.
“We find we can secure a premium by selling the lambs to one buyer; we come to a good deal with the farm shop each year and it makes finding time to manage the rest of the farm, including an 80-cow suckler herd and pedigree Belgian Blue herd, easier by not having to go to the market or slaughterhouse each week.”
On the back of using Beltex rams commercially, in 2006 Henry bought their first pedigree females privately, and made ram purchases including the 9,000gns Glantre Royce.
Today, the Jewitt flock stands at 65 ewes with up to 35 gimmers retained each year as replacements. Any surplus is sold privately or through Carlisle society sales where four gimmers will be up for sale this month.
Henry said: “The main objective of the pedigree flock is to breed rams for sale and this is made easier by marketing the flock at shows including the Great Yorkshire Show where our aged ram Jewitt Prime Minister won his class in 2012, as well as championships at Northumberland, Driffield, Egglestone and Bowes shows.
“Privately, we have sold rams to 2,000gns and last year took 1,100gns at Carlisle for a shearling ram. I have also recently been to Belgium to select some new top-quality bloodlines to take the flock forward.”
He visually selects both females and rams for a powerful, shapely carcase with sound legs and teeth, and a strong head.
Sticking with Beltex will ensure the Jewitts’ future success in the market place, said Henry: “The Beltex will definitely continue to have a place in the commercial sheep enterprise as we have found a ready market for the clean, smaller-framed lambs with minimal waste to suit the modern consumer.”
The Beltex will definitely continue to have a place in the commercial sheep enterprise